miracle on main street


Muhammad Ali is here, from 1967, and so too is Billie Jean King, circa 1973, and Nelson Mandela from 1995. The images are of boxers and tennis players, politicians, NBA point guards, NFL stars turned soldiers, drivers of racing Chevys, murdered Olympic athletes. All are depicted in a new series of 20 artworks commissioned by the web sports colossus Bleacher Report and something called the Creative Action Network, a collective of artists and designers from around the world. Those taking part in Transcend: Moments in Sports That Changed The Game were charged with creating “a single work that captures a sports figure, event or evolution that hold power and meaning far beyond any scoreboard.” And so Ali’s refusal to join the U.S. Army is represented alongside King’s victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” and the role Mandela played in turning a Rugby World Cup into a pivotal moment in South African history. Hockey’s here, too, thanks to Michigan artist Mark Forton and his take on America’s now-and-forever myth-making miracle that unfolded on the ice of the Olympic rink at 2634 Main Street, Lake Placid, New York, in February of 1980.

“David versus Goliath,” Forton has written about his work, here, “good versus evil.

One of the greatest hockey games ever to be played is not only a historical snapshot of Olympic competition but also of our world at that time. Nothing defined our culture and who we were as Americans like this hockey game did 35 years ago in the shadow of the Cold War. With this project I wanted to reflect on the historical aspects of the game of hockey represented in the old-style hockey mask and also the divisions that separated the USA and the old Soviet Union at that time. Even though the divisions were great at that time — the red that runs through the Soviet Union flag and the red in our US flag bleeds the same. Like the red blood that runs through our veins. Equal, two equally fantastic teams that defined Olympic competition at its best. It was an honor to work on this project for the Miracle on Ice.

this week: ya gotta step up to the thing

Hockey Night In Canada opened, this week, with a rousing rendition of Paul McCartney’s new song, “Save Us,” backing the usual montage of shooting and scoring and punching, and more punching, and some passing, and punching, building up to the big Nelson Mandela finish. Ron MacLean paid tribute to the late South African president’s geographical savvy with quotes involving the road to forgiveness and how, once you climb a hill, there’s always another hill to climb. In the rink in Ottawa, where the Leafs were visiting the Senators, a moment of silence in Mandela’s honour was broken by hardly any partisan bellowing.

That was Saturday night, just before all hell broke loose in Boston. Which is worth coming back to. First, though, in other news:

@Bernieparent tweeted a bulletin on Wednesday:

Your smile will give you a positive countenance that will make people feel comfortable around you.

… while Dave Bidini (@hockeyesque) called out his local librarian:

hey @torontolibrary ‘Keon and Me’: 16 copies, 76 holds. Stephen Harper? 177 copies. 13 holds. ‪#Moremelesshim

Meanwhile, in Moscow, R-Sport fretted about a crisis for the Russian hockey team playing host at the Sochi Olympics in February: with Ilya Bryzgalov going down this week with a concussion, all six Russian goaltenders playing in the NHL are now ailing. Sergei Bobrovsky’s lower body is stretched, strained, sprained, and/or smarting. Anton Khudobin’s ankle is his problem, while Evgeny Nabokov and Nikolai Khabibulin are troubled by groins. Sorry, that’s not quite right: what they’re saying is that they have “groin problems.” Semyon Varlamov has those, too; he also faces charges of third-degree assault for (allegedly) beating up his girlfriend.


In Sochi, four-time world champion Russia is under great pressure to win gold following Vancouver 2010 failure, when the team was destroyed 7-3 by Canada in the quarterfinal.

“A Bobby Hull howitzer it wasn’t,” wrote The Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak of a Mikael Backlund goal that won a game for the Flames over Phoenix.

“I didn’t get too much on the puck, so I didn’t think it would go in,” Backlund said while a teammate in the dressing room referred to his shot as a “muffin.”

Buffalo captain Steve Ott (born in Summerside, P.E.I.) had monetary policy on his mind this week, broadcasting his dismay about the new Canadian five-dollar bill, which replaces an illustration of hockey-playing kids with one showing the Canadarm at work in outer space. @otterN9NE:

A little disappointed in the new Canadian 5’s … Never knew we had a space program? #Nasa or #Hockey 

Hue and cry ensued on Twitter, as you’d guess, until @otterN9NE returned (sheepishly?) to his smartphone:

It was cool to watch Com Chris Hadfield drop a puck from space last year but I believe Hockey should have stayed on the 5. Maybe the 10?

At The Toronto Star, Damien Cox wondered whether Edmonton’s Taylor Hall wasn’t talking himself into the Team Canada conversation.

Talking to Sports Illustrated, Boston coach Claude Julien didn’t deny that as a boy, he’d worshipped the Montreal Canadiens. Times change, though. “Right now I don’t like them,” he said.

Prediction from former New Jersey defenceman Ken Daneyko, now a broadcaster for the Devils: the NHL will expand to Quebec and Seattle within “a couple years.”

The NHL paid Wayne Gretzky the $US8-million it owed him this week, parking instant speculation that he’ll be back soon in an active management role in, maybe, Washington or perhaps (possibly) Los Angeles, though of course how can you rule out Toronto?

As for the mess in Boston Saturday night, here’s how the NHL page on Yahoo! Sports told the tale next morning:

Brooks Orpik attacked by Shawn Thornton

Penguins’ defenseman was stretchered off the ice after being jumped from behind by Bruins’ winger

Ugliness erupts in Boston

Bruins win late, add insult to injury Continue reading